Following my letter of two weeks ago advocating that Rother District Council could save at least £2m by 2020 if they withdrew support from the De La Warr Pavilion, which currently runs at more than £500,000 a year, but could use the same money to provide front line services which RDC says are under threat, two letters were published last week. Where from? You’ve guessed it – Bexhill.
One suggests that the DLWP audiences do not come from Bexhill alone.
Of course they don’t, but it is Rother council tax payers who financially support the DLWP, which according to the other writer is at a rate of £8 per adult per annum.
This being for the benefit of people from out of the district.
Carole Woodland introduced the subject of Bexhill seafront.
What organisation other than a council would buy wooden shelters, that are little more than three-sided sheds, for the staggering sum of £65,000 each, then pay extra for the bases to erect them on?
Then there is the money that has been spent on the gardens at the bottom of Devonshire Road, and now there is a proposal to spend more on the seafront to the east of Bexhill, where is that to come from?
Please do not think I have not discussed this with Carl Maynard, leader of RDC, I have, ad nauseam.
His argument is that the DLWP would fail and become a burden on RDC if it did not receive the RDC and Arts Council grants.
My point was that as a business it should generate its own income from sales and become solvent, not remain an encumbrance on every RDC council tax payer.
John Betts being a Bexhill resident states that the DLWP is Rother’s number one attraction. Really? What about Battle Abbey? What about the Citadel area of Rye? What about Bodiam Castle? I do not think any one of those comes second to the DLWP. He quotes the footfall of the DLWP at 370,000 each year.
Would that be people paying to see events and exhibitions, or does it include those going to all the free events, or just popping in to use the toilets?
That figure could be misleading, as could the very out-of-date figure quoted as a benefit to the region’s economy, which may or may not have increased, and presumably would be centred around Bexhill with less effect being felt in places such as eastern Rother.
To realise why the DLWP needs so much tax payers’ money just compare the events on offer over the forthcoming half-term week with those at The White Rock Theatre in Hastings, there really is no comparison.
The White Rock charges, most of the niche exhibitions in the DLWP are free. That fact speaks volumes.
It is also a fact that only about 40 per cent of the residents of Rother live in Bexhill, the greater number live in Battle, Rye and the villages but fail to see a similar return for their council tax.
If Carl Maynard or any other RDC councillor were to take me to task over this criticism of their spending, they would without doubt point out that grants are obtained from various other sources, not just council tax payers.
But all council income comes from the public in one way or another, be it the Arts Council, East Sussex County Council, the EU, the Community Infrastructure Levy or a Section 106 imposition on house builders. Councils are not businesses and do not generate their own income, almost entirely they re-distribute tax payers money to fund services and facilities that a council, or the government, or the EU, decide the public shall have.
Various local volunteer services, which appear to be suffering dramatically, would benefit greatly from any largesse RDC could see fit to bestow on them rather than providing free entertainment for visitors at the DLWP.
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